Why is Fedora not a Free GNU/Linux distributions?

Les Mikesell lesmikesell at gmail.com
Sat Jul 19 02:36:04 UTC 2008

Rahul Sundaram wrote:
>> On the other hand, Linus was once widely quoted as saying that 
>> loadable binary driver modules were not derivative works of the kernel 
>> - and I believe that the initial popularity of depended on that 
>> interpretation just as much as the wide use of glibc depends on it not 
>> claiming programs that use it as derivatives.  He has waffled on that 
>> position more recently but there is no clear statement or legal 
>> precedent.
> You have made similar statements in the past while providing no 
> references every single time in the discussion even when asked. If you 
> truly believe in what you are saying, I would ask you (again) to provide 
> a direct quote. If he was so widely quoted on this as you claim, this 
> should be no problem at all. I very much doubt you will.

Does this direct quote from 1995 help your memory problem?

    "Another way to look at this - using the legal rather than the
     moral viewpoint - is to just see module loading as "use" of the
     kernel, rather than as linking against it.  I prefer to explain
     the rationale behind it using the _moral_ reason to do it, though."


Hence his exception to the GPL permitting use of the kernel interfaces. 
And if you read his statement there on why it is OK to have a non-GPL 
AFS module, you might perhaps understand why I am perplexed that it is 
not OK to have a non-GPL zfs module (ignoring the practical issues of 
connecting the code for the moment).

There was also a magazine interview in that time frame with essentially 
this same content, and I'm sure I also saw postings by Richard Stallman 
and Eben Moglen that clearly indicated that they understood Linus' 
postition on this point even though they disagreed with it being a good 
idea.  It's hard to search for things that far back but there must be 
copies still around somewhere.

    Les Mikesell
      lesmikesell at gmail.com

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